2005-08-25 / Business & Finance

As Kids Head Off To College, Parents Should Check Insurance

Wasn’t it only yesterday that you were sending them off for their first day of school? Now you’re sending them off to college. All across the state, students are packing up clothing, computers and stereos, jumping in the car and driving off to college. Professional Insurance Agents of New York Inc. reminds parents and students that this event affects insurance coverage.

Considering health insurance is a must for the college student, according to PIANY> Most group health plans continue to provide coverage for single, financially dependent, full-time students until they reach age 23. If this is the case, make sure your child is aware of his or her coverage before leaving for school and has the necessary insurance cards or numbers he or she needs. Also, if you health insurance plan involves co-payments, be sure to explain this to your child so he or she knows to bring the payment when visiting a medical provider.

Under an individual policy, however, coverage usually ends when a child turns 19, even if the child is a student. That child often has the right to purchase the same coverage for him or herself. Check with your child’s school. Many colleges and universities offer student health insurance.

“You don’t want to wait until your children become ill or have an accident miles away from home to find out whether they’re covered,” said N. Stephen Ruchman, president of PIANY.

“This is something parents need to take care of before their child leaves for college. Check your insurance policy to see what kind of coverage you have and discuss it with both your agent and your child before he or she needs it.”

Another thing to think about is in-suring your children’s valuable possessions. “Check your homeowners policy to see if the things your child takes to school are covered in case they are damaged or stolen,” says Ruchman, “Prepare and maintain a list of possessions such as computers, televisions, stereos, camera s and jewelry, including the original cost, serial numbers and purchase date. If the value of these items exceeds the off-premises coverage limit of your homeowners policy, then you should purchase additional coverage.”

Keep in mind that, if a student wants to be protected by his/her parent’s homeowners policy, the student must maintain residency in the parent’s household. Some insurers expressly define what “residency” means in their policy, but many insurers leave room for interpretation. Before a claim occurs, be sure to find out what criteria your insurer uses to determine whether your student child is still a resident of your household.

Auto insurance is another consideration for college-bound kids. If your child is attending school more than 100 miles form home without custody of a household vehicle, you may be eligible for a reduction in your auto in-surance premiums. If your child has custody of a vehicle at school, then the insurer may rate your insurance based upon where the vehicle is garaged. And, don’t forget to instruct your child on what to do in case of an accident and where the important documents (i.e., insurance ID card and vehicle registration) can be found, suggests PIANY.

This also is a good time to review your life insurance policy. “Now that your child has reached this milestone, you may want to be sure that his or her college education won’t be jeopardized if something happens to you,” says Ruchman.

It’s a good idea to contact your professional insurance agent whenever a major life change occurs. College is one of them. Parents should be fully aware of all the options available to them.

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